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Forage Identification: Yellow sweetclover

Department of Plant Sciences

Yellow sweetclover (Melilotus officinalis Lam.)

Biennial legume. Adapted to soils with moderate to excellent drainage and do well on alkaline, but not acid soils. Drought tolerant and exceptionally winter hardy. Not a true clover.

Yellow sweetclover

Growth Habitat:
Biennial, erect, coarse stems, 18 to 60 inches tall. Leaflets serrated margins. Deep taproot.

Yellow sweetclover

Plant Characteristics:
Pinnately trifoliolate, leaflets serrated over entire margin, stipules small not toothed. Long racemes bearing 10-96 florets which are yellow.

Yellow sweetclover leaf

Seed Characteristics:
Mitt shaped. Greenish-yellow.

Yellow sweetclover seeds

Important Identifying Characteristics:
Pinnately compound with 3 leaflets per leaf. Long racemes bearing yellow florets.

Primary Uses:
Used mostly for permanent pasture, but they can be cut for hay or silage. Green manure crop. Nitrogen fixer.

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